"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary."Galatians 6:9
Sitting in the dark shadows of my small cozy library as the sun went behind the mountain, found me and one of my older children talking quietly of struggles, challenges, battles of life, and long term endurance. The deep friendship, shaped over years of shared life, had knit our souls quite together.
I wasn't expecting this moment to be a memorable one. Just a normal moment in the dusk of day, that shaped a soul-satisfying memory.
"Mama," my grown child tenderly whispered, "One of the greatest things you have ever accomplished is to keep our family together through love, faith, laying down your own life, and enduring with as much grace as Jesus could give you, so that our lives could be whole, healthy and strong. I know that only God will know the ways you have chosen to give and serve and forgive, when you had to make the choices to do so. But all of us kids have benefitted because you were willing to weather the storms of life for us and hold us together."
Much of our lives as a family has been a battle through raging storms.
But, there are some amazing graces on this side of motherhood, when my four children have reached adulthood---I don't have to go back through any of the storms we barely weathered and much of my labor is behind me. And from all of it, I see four healthy, strong, vibrant young adults who are also my beloved friends.
Life is a journey from our present lives, to the future home Jesus is preparing for us to live in, with Him, for all eternity. Our own lives are filled with storms and gales and the blowing winds of a fallen world. Many times, unexpected gales of life threaten to undo us and overcome us. I hardly know of a family who isn't suffering through some sort of illness, loss of job, relationship heartbreak, conflict and difficulties.
An illusion that some people have about our family is that it has ever been easy for us to hold fast to ideals. Through 17 moves (5 international); clinical asthma with three of my children; adhd and ocd to extremes in two children; illnesses, financial issues, church splits, rejection from family members for ideals--so many storms that I was never trained for or ready to live through. Then there were the fusses, messes, long hours and no support systems.And then the weird children and unusual parents--we are all a study in contrasts and misfits.
All family travel into the eyes of life-storms. It is not an evidence of a bad family, it is the reality of a fallen world, with rebellion and fallenness evident with every dark cloud.
And yet, wanting to love God and serve Him through it all, was the glue that held me, us, our own family, together when life threatened to tear all of us apart.
It is not the grand, noble accomplishments that are the most profoundly valuable to God. It is the unnoticed, the invisible practicing of being faithful, courageous when no one else is looking, that become the jewels of our faith in the eyes of God.
Accepting a loud, boisterous child and seeking to be patient and gentle over and over again, when feelings threatened to erupt into frustration and anger.
Working beyond exhaustion and getting up in the middle of the night, again, for a sick child, when there was no one to help or anyone to be a friend, through all of the moves and loneliness.
Enduring by choice the heavy burdens of the tests of marriage.
Cleaning up messes one more time. Making one more homemade meal and drawing the family circle together to celebrate life, reflecting the real vibrant life of God, when a nap or getting far away seemed more desirable. Having one more devotional in the midst of wiggly, distracted children and believing that somehow eternity was entering their hearts.
These, and more, are the noble and valiant, priceless works of motherhood. The unseen heroism that captains a ship successfully through the dark storms of life--bringing hope, and security to the lives of those making the journey--courage and strength in the face of storms is the choice that a mom makes which deeply touches the soul and heart of the child being guided and sheltered through the storms.
I can see this now in the lives of my children. When I would worry that the instability of our family life would ruin them, or my flaws would harm them, the Holy Spirit was making them strong, showing them how to exercise muscles of faith in dark situations.
The words and heart of my child was salve to my soul--it all mattered, each day, each moment of faith, each decision to keep loving and giving against all force of selfishness. Somehow, God took the sacrifice of my fish and loaves and made it enough.
And the words of an adult child, returned home, became the voice of God, encouraging--
For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Hebrews 6:10
And so, somehow, many failures forgotten and discouraging moments lived through, the Life of God and the strength He gave in the face of strong winds of temptation and fear with faith lived out, became in my child, a strong work of heart that gave foundations of faith.
For it was the storms of life that prepared my children to be strong for their lives and gave them a pattern of learning how to ford the rough waters that their own lives would hold.
Take courage today, sweet, tired, mama. Your labor is not in vain and in contrast is the very work of the soul that will be your best labor for eternity.